Of Documentaries and Short Fiction Films

Of Documentaries and Shorts

I was wondering why Documentaries and Shorts are treated as stepping stones to Features. Buddhadev Dasgupta and Goutam Ghose have continued to alternate feature films and documentaries. Even Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray made docus after debuting with features! Indeed, the very fact that Buddha Da – who’s undergoing dialysis every other day – made time to grace the evening underscores the significance of Shorts and Documentaries.

I remember, in 1960s, when film going was a once-in-a-while event in my life, every feature film was preceded by a newsreel and a short. That inculcated in us a discipline of watching documentaries. Today, with the abundance of channels and platforms on the Net, we don’t need to go to theatres. But I realise, that discipline of watching documentaries and Shorts as a genre of cinema still needs to be inculcated.

And then, the very name Films Division. It’s an institution that predates DFF, FTII, NFDC. Actually it’s a storehouse of our national history. Let’s not for a moment forget its archival value. MIFF? Yes, it continues to bring the best of Shorts and Documentaries from the world over. “It’s a ‘milan kshetra’ – a meeting ground for cultures AND histories,” my friend Siladitya Sen stressed.

Buddhadev Dasgupta and Goutam Ghose have continued to alternate feature films and documentaries. Even Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray made docus after debuting with features!

Young actor Hiran narrated the story of his life – his idolising of Buddhadev Dasgupta, the exploitation he was subjected to by certain directors who didn’t hesitate to treat him like a menial; the break he was given by Haranath Chakraborty; the successes and failures he has seen in his young life – fortunately, with his graceful wife Anindita by his side. He ended by stressing the importance of Dreams. And he pleaded viewers to go and watch movies – in theatres…

Yes, all this happened at the inauguration of the 3-day festival, MIFF in Kolkata, at Nandan 3 in August 22, 2018. It brings to viewers a selection of the award winning films from MIFF 2016 and 2018. “Make the most of it, Kolkata,” all four of us on the dais urged the viewers. And, if I may share with my film loving friends, recommended by my young friend Sumac Mukherjee, I came back with a booty of docus: Ray’s on Tagore and Binode Behari; a harvest of Sukhdev, and his daughter Shabnam’s The Last Adieu, about her father; and Priya Dutt’s encapsulation of her mother, Nargis.

 

Categories
Festival Circuit

Ratnottama Sengupta (daughter of legendary scriptwriter Nabendu Ghosh) is a film -journalist, -festival-curator/-organiser; documentary filmmaker; and author of several books on cinema and film personalities. She is a member of the Film Critics Circle of India, has served on notable international film juries, and is a recipient of the National Film Award for Best Writing on Cinema.

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